The Tennessee Titans added tight end Thomas Odukoya as part of the league’s 2022 International Player Pathway program. The Netherlands-born playmaker is looking forward to making an impact throughout the months of July and August.
Odukoya played his college football at Eastern Michigan University. Prior to bringing his talents to America, Odukoya began playing football at age 16 in his native Netherlands, where he was named the Dutch National MVP. He was a team captain for two seasons and received Academic All-MAC.
#Titans add TE Thomas Odukoya (@ThomasO_) of the Netherlands as part of the 2022 @NFL International Player Pathway Program— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) May 3, 2022
Music City Miracles recently spoke exclusively with Eastern Michigan tight ends coach Brandon Blaney, who coached Odukoya in college. Coach Blaney offers a glowing review of both the player and professional.
“Most programs build statues of kids that win Heisman trophies and what not,” coach Blaney said. “If I could convince the program to build a statue of this kid [Odukoya] in front of our stadium, I would. He’s been a leader for this team.”
Coach Blaney can offer a unique perspective on Odukoya and his overall fit with the Titans going forward. Coach Blaney actually spent two seasons on the Titans’ coaching staff, as a defensive assistant from 2015-17. Blaney worked alongside current Titans General Manager Jon Robinson for two seasons (2016-17).
“The thing that really excites me about him going to the Titans, having worked for Jon Robinson myself, having been in that organization for two years, I know the type of players Robinson likes to have within his building,” Blaney said. “Thomas exhibits the quality of a Tennessee Titan both as a player and person. He’s going to come in and be mentally prepared every day. He’s going to live up to the standard Robinson expects and demands.”
Odukoya (6-6, 263) played in 40 career games at Eastern Michigan, where he caught 21 passes for 194 yards and four touchdowns. Odukoya played in 13 games in 2021, when he tallied 13 catches for 130 yards and two scores.
“When we say that a person is a great kid, he’s not a kid, because he conducts himself as a professional,” coach Blaney continued. “He approaches his craft with a professional mindset. He’s the type person that will spend the entire morning studying the game before our meetings, and in-between his classes. He’ll write things down that he sees or has a question about. He wants to be the example of how to do things. He’s an incredibly passionate and organized player.”
Odukoya mainly thrived as a blocker at Eastern Michigan while serving as an extension of the offensive line. The Titans enjoy employing blocking tight ends as they continue to field a run-first offense on the back of superstar running back Derrick Henry. Blocking tight ends such as Geoff Swaim and MyCole Pruitt have thrived in Tennessee. Odukoya fits the mold.
“He prides himself on the physicality of his play,” Blaney said. “He knows that professionally, his job is going to be to move a defender from Point A to Point B against their will at the next level. Whether he totals three or 30 receptions on the season, that doesn’t matter to him. He knows what his job is. He knows that means playing in multiple tight end sets and being a point of attack blocker. That’s how he’ll earn his salary going forward.”
The Titans are allowed to carry Odukoya on their roster until the end of training camp. At that time, Odukoya is eligible for an international player practice squad exemption, granting the Titans an extra practice squad member. Clubs have the opportunity to elevate the player to the active roster during the season. It essentially guarantees Odukoya will spend the entire 2022 campaign with the Titans and honing his craft on the practice squad.
“He’s always seeking, and wants to exercise responsibility,” coach Blaney concluded.